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August 22nd, 2003. Posted in News from Belarus

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In Belarus continue to liquidate civil initiatives (photo)

In Belarus continue to liquidate civil initiatives21.08.2003 the decision of the Grodno regional court (Judge Kolesnik Alexander Alekseevich) at 15.30 has been read. The court has made the decision on liquidation of the Grodno regional public association “Town hall”.
It is not the first and not last court over civil initiatives in Belarus in general and, in particular, in of Grodno. The scheme usual: the local justice department reveals “infringements” and to formal and far-fetched signs liquidates objectionable public organisation. Liquidations are subject, as a rule, active the public associations, which members though time has opposed operating policy A.Lukashenka and local authorities in relation to citizens, to economic and to a country political policy, against infringement of human rights.

Feature of the given litigation over “Town hall” consists that “Town hall” always behaved neutrally, was engaged in rendering of free legal aid to the population, organised training seminars for the population, tried to adjust dialogue between the state bodies and local initiatives. “Town hall” was as the resource centre for public associations of area and various civil initiatives. I.e. reprisals of the authorities against civil initiatives became wider. If earlier they extended, basically, on those organisations where leaders openly spoke against an operating mode public associations which openly do not support an operating mode will be liquidated now.

The note: For example, earlier to formal and far-fetched signs two organisations headed by the author of these text have been liquidated in Grodno: the Grodno regional public association on protection of the rights of consumers, tax bearers and motorists “Lyons” and the Grodno city centre of protection of the rights of consumers.

Litigation over “Town hall” has begun 21.08.2003 at 10.00 with small scandal in a hall №6 in a building of the Grodno regional court. The author of these lines has tried to photograph for memory of halls of judicial session. The judge has tried to break the rights and freedom of the photographer and has declared that he does not allow to photograph and the photographer can have big troubles. On my remark, that prior to the beginning of litigation the judge has not the right to forbid, something, to someone and the petition of representative “Town hall” for the shooting permission, the judge was softened and has allowed making some photos. Here too has not done without an incident. The beginning of judicial session removed the Grodno TV, and the permission was not required, the judge of remarks did not do. The judge has asked the claimant (the representative of the Grodno regional justice department), whether he objects to shootings. That has answered, that against photographing objects, and here against filmings by the Grodno TV – is not present.

At present at a hall (nearby 70 persons) it has caused certain reaction – laughter and bewilderment.
After the given confusion has been declared having rummaged on 10 minutes since the justice department Grodno regional executive committee has shown additional 5 episodes (infringements) in addition to initial to two on which should be closed “Town hall”, and representatives of “Town hall” needed to familiarize with these additions.

The note: this rehearsed action. The court, as a rule, always closes the organisation under justice department claims, but just for show justice and legality, some insignificant “infringements” do not recognise. The decision on organisation closing on one – two “infringements”, with simultaneous “justification” on other “infringements” as a result turns out. But the fact remains the fact – the organisation is closed.

As formal initial occasion to closing “Town hall” that circumstance has served, that to association the preventions connected by have been taken out that association used in the activity for manufacturing of internal documents in May, 2002 a risograph (the multiplying technics), and in April, 2003 stored the same risograph.

In addition, the justice department has suddenly recollected, that from the moment of registration of the organisation with 1996 by results of numerous checks 5 infringements have been still revealed, for which before the prevention were not taken out in connection with their insignificance and their argumentativeness (on round stamp manufacturing, by mistake in the report, on symbolic, etc.) as on given by “infringement” “Town hall” immediately took measures on their correction.

Coming nearer parliamentary and presidential elections, possible referendum about prolongation of powers of A.Lukashenka, becoming ripe mass excitements and performances of citizens, presence of resources, a risograph, ability “Town hall” to let out any quantity of printing information “Town hall”, presence of communications “Town hall” with foreign partners and real work on creation and support of independent public associations – here the real reasons of closing “Town hall”. Public independent associations, civil initiatives – it is the first enemies of any dictatorship.

If to consider and that circumstance, that judges are appointed A.Lukashenka from giving of local judicial authorities it would be possible to tell in advance, than litigation between justice department and “Town hall” will end.

After break litigation has proceeded … – well and many time the rehearsed performance with participation of the public prosecutor. The judge pretends, that tries to understand case, the justice department firmly costs on the position, the public prosecutor thinks about something the. The opinion of the public prosecutor and the judge is generated and written for a long time already.

Representatives of “Town hall” tried to convince court to operate under the law. From the law directly follows, that “Town hall” is not required any licenses, permissions, etc. on storage and use the equipment which has been given them in the area of the humanitarian help. Moreover, «Town hall” has presented this “apple of discord” to a higher educational institution and as of May, 2003 any more had no this equipment. Representatives of “Town hall” tried to convince court to be guided by common sense – licensing and other procedures are provided for subjects of managing, instead of for public associations and stand more than three thousand dollars a year. Such money at public organisation simply cannot be. But all is vain. Naive, they thought, that in court to them will listen. There, where the policy in Belarus begins – the law does not exist any more. “Town hall” in apartment where I live is literally two months prior to last “arrival” on , have conducted an illegal night search with participation of militia and submachine gunners, with property withdrawal, in that, number and the Risograph. The Office of Public Prosecutor and courts refuse to consider this case, and the militia refuses not only to return withdrawn, but even to give out the copies of documents connected with a search and withdrawal of property.

The primary goal of illegal searches, withdrawals, closings of public associations, infringements of the rights of citizens is an economic destruction of opposition, intimidation of people – is preparation for falsification of results of forthcoming referenda and the selective companies.
Similar that the flywheel of reprisals against the independent organizations and mass-media only starts to be untwisted and will concern many in the near future. The state in the name of several officials compels us, citizens of Republic to go underground. Whether such state and such governors is necessary for us? Here in what a question.

From a place of events of Grodno Valery Levaneuski

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Note: Translated by means of machine translation. The original text in Russian is on a site www.levonevsky.org or www.levonevski.net
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